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Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times]
Published May 27, 2017

Keep him.

Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

Keep him.

Anyone can be traded. Wayne Gretzky was traded. Anyone can be traded.

Keep him.

Keep Jo Drouin.

Yes, it will be hard to sign Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson and Drouin to new deals. Someone probably has to go.

Trade Johnson.

Drouin is a unique talent. I'm not trading him and his high ceiling. I'm not trading that inspired playmaking ability, all those possibilities, for a No. 3 or No. 4 defenseman.

Last season was kind of Drouin's first season in the NHL. Really. Yes, there was 2014-15, but Drouin didn't play very much on a lot of nights and had his share of healthy scratches. Then there was 2015-16, all the nonsense, the mini-drama Drouin's pouty sit-down strike to try and get traded and the Lightning suspending him.

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But he scored 21 goals this past season, his first full swing, and added 32 assists. And he's only 22.

Keep him.

Yes, he disappears at times. Yes, he gets occasional brain cramps and leaves his teammates hanging. Yes, he has an attitude, and didn't look good when he sat and stewed in Syracuse. Yes, he has his share of differences with Lightning coach Jon Cooper.

Keep him.

Talent is talent.

In an NHL starved for goals, Drouin's ability to score and create scoring isn't something to be underestimated — or traded away. Drouin can be a point-a-game guy in this league.

The Lightning took Drouin third overall in the 2013 draft. So he isn't Mr. Two Way. So he isn't Connor McDavid. But Drouin has mad skills, the kind of improvisational chops that occasionally draw comparisons to Patrick Kane.

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Steven Stamkos is coming off another health issues. Ryan Callahan is coming off an injury, too. There are a lot of unknowns.

Yes, Drouin needs to grow up. But Lightning GM Steve Yzerman knows how much talent the kid had, even as he tried to move him. Yes, the Lightning have needs on defense. Yes, there's always a possibility that Drouin won't be ready to accept a discount to stay with the Lightning long term.

But there's a name I want the Lightning to remember: Tyler Seguin. Boston traded Seguin to Dallas a few seasons years ago because it saw him as a problem child. Seguin has become an elite scorer.

Is Jo Drouin on deck?

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The Lightning appear ready to trade him. And all those possibilities.

Anyone can be traded. Ben Bishop was traded. Anyone can be traded.

Drouin might turn into an all-star on another team.

Here's an idea:

Why not have him turn into an all-star for this team?

Keep him.

Contact Martin Fennelly at mfennelly@tampabay.com or 813-731-8029. Follow >@mjfennelly.